10 things you need to know today: August 9, 2021
World's climate scientists issue 'code red for humanity', Senate votes to end debate on bipartisan infrastructure bill, and more
World's climate scientists issue 'code red for humanity'
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a dire report Monday warning that the world was already locked into more weather-related disasters, higher and more acidic oceans, and other significant changes to the planet due to greenhouse gas emissions humans have put into the atmosphere since the 1850s. In all five scenarios the 234 climate scientists laid out, the world fails the most ambitious climate target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement — keeping the world less than 1.5 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times — though the scientists said the most dire scenario, doing nothing, is less likely than before. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called the report's findings "a code red for humanity" and said we owe it to "the entire human family" to cut emissions fast and sharply to avoid catastrophe.
Senate votes to end debate on bipartisan infrastructure bill
The Senate voted 68-29 on Sunday night to end debate on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, meaning the measure could pass as soon as Monday night. Eighteen Republicans voted with the Democrats to move the legislation along. Under Senate rules, lawmakers opposed to the measure could run the clock for 30 more hours before a final vote, The Hill reports, which could push the expected passage of the bill to Tuesday morning. If it passes, the measure will go on to the House.
Top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa resigns amid harassment scandal
Melissa DeRosa, the top aide to embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), has resigned, she said in a statement Sunday night. The resignation comes a week after New York's attorney general released a report finding that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, but DeRosa's statement did not mention the report or its political fallout, saying only that "personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying." Widely viewed as the ultimate Cuomo loyalist, DeRosa was mentioned by name 187 times in the attorney general's harassment report. DeRosa's departure, the first from Cuomo's inner circle, is seen as a huge blow to Cuomo's efforts to stay in office despite calls for his resignation and a looming impeachment.
Executive assistant who accused Cuomo of groping her says he must be 'held accountable'
Brittany Commisso, one of the women who has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, is publicly sharing her story for the first time, telling CBS This Morning that Cuomo "needs to be held accountable." Last week, the New York attorney general's office released a report detailing allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo by 11 women, with Commisso referred to as "Executive Assistant #1." She accused Cuomo of grabbing her multiple times and forcing her into "close and intimate hugs." The governor has denied any wrongdoing. Commisso's allegations were listed first in the attorney general's report, and she believes that is "due to the nature of the inappropriate conduct that the governor did to me." Commisso has also filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo, triggering an investigation by the Albany County Sheriff.
Dixie Fire now 2nd largest blaze in California history
The Dixie Fire in California has now burned more than 463,000 acres, making it the second largest wildfire in state history. The blaze, which started on July 13, has swept through four counties in Northern California — Plumas, Butte, Lassen, and Tehama — and destroyed the town of Greenville, Lassen National Park's historic Mount Harkness Fire Lookout, and more than 400 homes and commercial buildings. Sheriff's officials in Plumas County also say that four people in the area threatened by the fire are missing. As of Sunday morning, the fire was 21 percent contained. The Dixie Fire is the largest wildfire currently burning in the United States, forcing thousands to evacuate from their homes. The largest fire in California history was the Complex Fire, which burned more than 1 million acres in 2020.
Greek wildfires prompt evacuations on island
More than 2,000 residents of Greece's Evia island have been evacuated by sea to escape wildfires raging across the island. Greece is suffering through its worst heat wave in 30 years, and numerous wildfires have broken out in the country and other parts of the Mediterranean's northern rim. Evia is a large island north and east of Athens, and local officials say Athens has not sent enough help to fight the blazes. A large fire in the northern suburbs of Athens has been contained.
Canada opens border to fully vaccinated Americans
Canada on Monday is lifting its ban on Americans crossing its border for nonessential travel for the first time since March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. is not reciprocating yet, keeping its northern and southern borders closed at least until Aug. 21. Americans who want to travel to Canada will have to be fully vaccinated, test negative for COVID-19 within three days of travel, and fill out a detailed application online. The Canada Border Services Agency did not estimate how many U.S. residents it expects to cross the border, but it suggested travelers might face lines at border-crossings. "CBSA will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times," said agency spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy.
Judge suspends Florida 'vaccine passport' ban for cruise ships
A federal judge in Miami granted Norwegian Cruise Line a preliminary injunction Sunday night, at least temporarily blocking a Florida law that bans private companies from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams wrote in her ruling that Florida "fails to provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate" for its "vaccine passport" ban. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) first issued an executive order banning companies from requiring proof of vaccination, then signed a law passed by the legislature that would fine cruise ships that required vaccination proof up to $5,000 per passenger. Under Williams' ruling, the Norwegian Gem can now set sail from Miami on Aug. 15 with only demonstrably vaccinated passengers and crew.
Taliban captures 3 Afghan provincial capitals
The Taliban took effective control of three of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals on Sunday and Monday — Kunduz, Taliqan, and Sar-i-Pul — in a relentless offensive that has already seized much of rural Afghanistan and includes an assassination campaign against senior officials in Kabul, the country's capital. The Taliban has also captured the capitals of Nimroz and Zawzjan provinces, and is laying siege to Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. The Taliban's sweep through Afghanistan accelerated after the U.S. and NATO allies started drawing down forces leading up to President Biden's deadline for an Aug. 31 withdrawal. The U.S. is providing limited air support to the overstretched Afghan security forces, but the White House is making it clear that Afghanistan's internationally recognized government will stand or fall on its own.
"Night Court" star Markie Post dies at 70
Actress Markie Post, best known for starring in Night Court and Hearts Afire, died on Saturday, after battling cancer for nearly four years. She was 70. Post's death was confirmed by her manager. Before going into acting, Post was involved with television game shows, serving as a card dealer on Card Sharks and working as an associate producer on Alex Trebek's Double Dare. In addition to her starring roles in Night Court, Hearts Afire, and The Fall Guy, Post appeared on dozens of television shows, including Cheers, Scrubs, Chicago P.D., CHiPS, Hart to Hart, and The Love Boat, as well as movies like There's Something About Mary. Post's family said in a statement that she continued to act in between chemotherapy treatments, appearing on The Kids are Alright and in the Lifetime movie Four Christmases and a Wedding.